The Decorous Gentleman of NYU
Following up on my comment on the tacky reception Justice Scalia got at NYU, the student involved, one Eric Berndt, has just had his rather histrionic justification outed at Wonkette. It's reads like something you'd expect from a high school sophomore:
Do not presume to tell me when and with how much urgency to stand up for our rights.
I am 17 months out of a lifelong closet and have lost too much time to heterosexist hegemony to tolerate those who say, as Dr. King put it, "just wait." If you cannot stomach a breach of decorum when justified outrage erupts then your support is nearly worthless anyway. At least do not allow yourselves to become complicit in discrimination by demanding obedience from its victims. Many of our classmates chose NYU over higher-ranked schools because of our reputation as a "private university in the public service" and our commitment to certain values.
Apparently Mr. Berndt thinks etiquette isn't one of those values to which NYU should be committed. Thankfully, it certainly appears that he's in the minority.
Actually, the problem is very much one of values, particularly the all-too-common value judgment that "if something is not legally prohibited, it must be proper behavior." I'd expound further, but Will Baude has beat me to the main issue, and puts it rather well:
There's no particular reason that the notion of "privacy" for purposes of academic and social etiquette should perfectly track the notion of "privacy" for purposes of constitutional law. Etiquette is a bottom-up institution determined by the evolving standards of society. Law (at least written constitutional law and statutory law, if not common law) is laid down in written rules set forth in large books. It would be passing strange if the legal standards devised by the 39th Congress and ratified by mid 19th-century citizens rose or fell with the evolving standards of etiquette.
Strange indeed. Further, if a university can't invite a Supreme Court justice to an awards ceremony without his being insulted--if this is the atmosphere to which a university will submit its guests--then what kind of intellectual climate can it hope to foster? What good is NYU's much-vaunted dedication to diversity if it acts to oppress intellectual engagement? Does it really matter if your mob is rainbow-coloured?
Fortunately, it appears that NYU's Dean has no time for such things. I have no word of any action taken against students or protestors, but it's nice to see at least this condemnation.